New ‘Beyond Cellblocks’ Webinar: Ending Police-ICE Collaboration

US_Immigration_and_Customs_Enforcement_SWATThroughout the country, local police have been partnering with immigration services, resulting in unfair targeting and treatment of people of color. On Tuesday July 1, join us for an important video discussion about ending collaboration between local law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In addition to educating participants on the police-ICE collaboration and its effects on our communities, we will be discussing strategies to end the collaboration, focusing on how we can build policies at a local level in order to help assemble what we hope to see happen at a national level.

We are excited to showcase three very accomplished and passionate speakers at this webinar: Nicole Brown, field director for the Center for Intercultural Organizing; Alisa Wellek, co-executive director for the Immigrant Defense Project; and Stephen Manning, a partner at Immigrant Law Group PC.

Date:  Tuesday July 1st  2014

Start Time:  11:00 AM PST/2:00 PM EST

To view the video presentation live and participate in the Q&A, register here. This webinar is part of the Beyond Cell Blocks & Border Stops series.

New Video: Case Study of Colorado’s Consent-To-Search Policing Policy

In October 2013, the Alliance for a Just Society partnered with the Union Theological Seminary for a symposium called Cell Blocks and Border Stops: Transformational Activism in the Age of Dehumanization. Since then, the Alliance has been working closely with our affiliate organizations to advance policies that deconstruct systemic structures of criminalization in their local jurisdictions — and we’ve launched this webinar series, as platform for organizers and policymakers to learn from one another and to generate new ideas for local campaigns that can be replicated across the country.

Our last webinar covered Seattle’s LEAD program, a cutting-edge diversion program that uses Medicaid expansion dollars to pay for the chemical dependency or mental health treatment of potential arrestees. This month, we’ve brought together a distinguished panel of speakers to discuss how Colorado passed a law in 2010 requiring police officers to inform people of their constitutional right to consent or refuse a search. Four years later, what’s been the real outcome of the program, and what can other states learn?

This webinar originally aired live on May 28, 2014. Our panelists:

Tania Soto Valenzuela is a community organizer with Colorado Progressive Coalition, a statewide, member-driven organization that engages communities to advance economic and social justice. She has fought alongside survivors of police brutality and misconduct, and with the Racial Justice & Police Accountability Hotline, she’s working to highlight members’ stories to change the culture of silence and violence currently dominating our law enforcement agencies.

Alex Landau is a civil rights activist and a member of Colorado Progressive Coalition. As a survivor of a high-profile case of extreme police violence in Denver, Colorado, he has been instrumental in the re-launching of CPC’s police profiling hotline, and he assists with internal affairs and independent monitoring processes.

Hillary Jorgenson is the Interim Executive Director of Colorado Progressive Coalition. She led the coalition’s work to pass the Affordable Care Act, to expand Medicaid and to protect Medicare. She recently took the position of CPC’s political director.

Art Way is Senior Policy Manager at Drug Policy Alliance, based in Denver. Way brings substantial public policy and criminal justice reform experience to DPA. And was formally the lead organizer for responsible for the Consent-To-Search campaign.

Our next webinar will be examining the local policies that are being passed to end police and ICE collaboration, on July 1st at 11:00 PT/ 2:00 ET. We hope you will join us again.

Consent to Search: Beyond Cell Blocks Webinar Series Continues

consent to searchIn 2010, after a lengthy fight, Colorado passed a state law that required police officers to inform people of their constitutional right to refuse a search of their person and/or property. The goal of the law was to reduce traffic stops, searches and intimidation stemming from from discrimination.

Law enforcement officers at the time said the legislation threatened their ability to do their jobs. Supporters of the law said it would force police to focus on probable cause and not waste resources on fishing expedition-type searches. The debate drew sharp focus Constitutional protection from unlawful search and seizure and the right to refuse. Read more

Paid Sick Days: Good for Workers, Good for Business

Tony Sandkamp, owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in New Jersey, is a supporter of paid sick days for workers – because it makes sense for employees, and it makes sense for his company’s bottom line. Sandkamp, a Main Street Alliance leader, recently joined a panel of business leaders at the New York Regional Forum on Working Families, organized by the White House and the Department of Labor.

Part of the discussion focused on paid sick days. While many employees take it for granted that their employer will still pay them if they are forced to stay home sick a few days each year,many more workers are not given the option. If employees don’t come to work, they aren’t paid. Even scarier, if they miss work because of sickness, they risk losing their job.

“It’s ironic that I am advocating for paid sick leave, given that I think the last sick day I personally took was when I broke my leg in the third grade,” said Sandkamp. “When I worked for the airlines back in my twenties, I earned the ‘perfect attendance’ award for three consecutive years.

“But paid sick days just makes common sense – even for me and my small business,” said Sandkamp.

He has owned a custom woodworking business in Jersey City for more than 20 years. Sandkamp makes furniture and cabinets that are unique and one of kind – any mistakes can be very costly.

“A few years back, we were working on a cabinet, and the entire piece was coming from one tree, which required us to carefully match the grains of wood. It was very intricate work, and required a lot of concentration.

“One of my employees was cutting the veneers and cut them the wrong way. It was all the veneer we had left. He came into my office after he made the mistake. He had obviously been crying. He was a man who took great pride in his work,” said Sandkamp.

“What I didn’t know was that he had a fever. It was the flu season. But he came to work anyway, because he needed the pay. This man was the sole provider for his family. We started the cabinet over again, and lost a month’s work.

My business bottom line is not only about dollars – it’s about keeping my employees healthy and happy.

“For me, paid sick days is a non-issue since it will improve my employee retention,” said Sandkamp. “The cost of training that employee and replacing them is many times greater. I need people to work at their best every day. If they are sick and feel financial pressure to come into work, they are much more likely to make a mistake or potentially hurt themselves.”

The momentum is growing nationwide for economy-boosting policies like paid sick days. Laws requiring paid sick days have been passed in New York City, Newark, Jersey City, Portland, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco. Small business owners across the country are getting involved at the local level to help craft and support laws that are good for small businesses, good for workers, and good for the local economy.

As we work together to build cabinets, paid sick days help build common ground, which makes my business stronger, and my employees’ lives better,” said Sandkamp.

Check out a video of the panel discussion here.

 

Oregon Activists at the Heart of Fight to End ICE Holds

Manny releasedBy Nicole Brown

Center for Intercultural Organizing

Last week when I received a call from Multnomah County Chair Marissa Madrigal and then from Sheriff Daniel Staton, I wondered if the sheriff might finally be reconsidering his policy on holding immigrants in jail at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

But I never could have anticipated this conversation – or what followed. Read more

The Penalty for Being Poor – Prison

By Simmi Bagri
Alliance for a Just Society

Imagine being poor. Then imagine that the depth of your poverty is compounded because you committed a minor infraction. You can’t pay your ticket. You go to court and are put under a probation monitoring service – more fees and fines. You can’t afford bus fare, so you walk everywhere. You can’t afford food, so you go hungry.

Then imagine being put in jail because you can’t pay the fines. Your life has been criminalized, and infrastructure that ought to allow you to you to make amends and move forward, traps you. You can’t escape it. Now you can stop imagining, because that is exactly what is happening across the United States today

Earlier this month the Human Rights Watch released a report titled “Profiting From Probation: America’s Offender-Funded Probation Industry,” which describes a probation model that incentivizes private for-profit companies to prey on low-income misdemeanor offenders.
Read more

Butte Jury Holds Bankers Accountable With $52 Million Verdict

By Sheena Rice
Montana Organizing Project

It’s no longer shocking to read news articles about the scandalous behavior of big banks. Readers roll their eyes when they see JPMorgan’s CEO being awarded a total pay of $20 million the same year the bank made repeated headlines for being fined millions of dollars and incurring losses of billions of dollars. Stories like these are so common it’s almost boring.MOP Logo JPEG

But a jury in Butte, Mont. – population 34,000 – recently decided they weren’t going to tolerate a second set of rules just for banks. They delivered a $52 million verdict against Comerica, another national bank that was also bailed out by the government, and then refused to help a borrower.

The borrower, an office supply company, was essentially destroyed when Comerica reneged on a written forbearance agreement. The company decided to fight, and filed the lawsuit.
Read more

The Realpolitics of Baker, Montana: Grassroots and Integrity Move the Local Elections

 Election 2013

By Sheena Rice, Montana Organizing Project. (posted by David Fleishman)

Depending on whom you ask, Baker Montana is either in the middle of nowhere or in the middle of the everything. Although for the answer to be the latter, you would need to be asking someone from Baker. A community of 1,800, Baker is an small rural community in far eastern Montana; 200 miles away from Billings, Rapid City, South Dakota and Bismarck, North Dakota. And it’s an oil town. Brandon-Schmidt
Bordering the booming Bakken oil region, and with some of the oldest oil wells in Montana, Baker is a town very familiar with the boom and busts of oil and gas development. Politically, Baker is unmistakably conservative, due in part to the number of residents employed in oil and gas and its isolation from urban centers. It is a community that has to take care of itself, as it tends to be an afterthought in decisions made at the state capitol in Helena (461 miles away).
With this in mind, it would be easy to assume that the community would elect those that fit into the conservative mold and that coddle the oil and gas industry. That’s the problem with assumptions.

Meet Alderman and Montana Organizing Project Board Member, Brandon Schmidt. Read more

The Symposium in Review: #CellBlocks and #Borderstops… #Human Beings

Re-Posted from the Institute for Pragmatic Practice (www.pragmaticpractice.org)

In the last four decades, mass incarceration and immigration control in the United States has skyrocketed. Our nation has become an engine thatIPPImage pulls people from their communities, removing them from the very fabric that gives them their humanity. Over-policing of everyday lives has made the simple act of walking down one’s street a criminal act. The criminalization of communities is evermore presenting itself as a system of violence against them.

The Institute for Pragmatic Practice held an incredible symposium October 17-18, that brought voice to those affected by incarceration.  Cell Blocks and Border Stops: Transformation in the age of dehumanization brought faces to those who have been invisible behind walls and in communities that are left behind. Read more

Alliance Cross Training is Vital to Growing the Grassroots

(Post written by Alain Nahimana, posted online by David Fleishman)

Sharing resources between organizations includes putting people on the ground, side-by-side.

It gave me a sense that whether the work we do is statewide or on a federal level, the challenges we face are the same. My name is Alain Nahimana and I am an organizer with Maine People’s Alliance.  A community organizer can work in all environments, not only in his/her comIMG_0283.JPGmunity.

I was joined by a MPA member Sonia Irambona and Grady Burns, canvasser. The three of us were set down in some of Virginia’s toughest turf to canvass for immigration reform. Harold Folley of Virginia Organizing even made sure we had the number for the police handy. These were towns considered hostile, right in the middle of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s district. (Virginia’s 7th District) Read more